SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur– The top official of the police in Caraga has stood pat that the leader of the women’s right group Gabriela is also a top leader of New Peoples Army (NPA).
Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat, Police Regional Director in Caraga, said the arrest of Atheliana “Ka Atel” Hijos was a legitimate law enforcement operation contrary to the claims of human rights group Karapatan that the charges against here were false.
The ailing 76-year-old leader of Gabriela is now under the custody of the police’s Regional Intelligence Division
Maj. Jennifer Ometer, PRO 13 public information officer, said in a phone interview that Atheliana “Atel” Hijos, secretary general of Gabriela in the Caraga region, was arrested on August 30 and brought to an undisclosed location where she was under detention even if she is already bedridden due to various illnesses.
In a statement written in Tagalog and posted in Police Regional Office 13 (PRO-13) Pulis Caraga PIO, Caramat said Hijos is the fourth most wanted NPA rebel in the Caraga, who has standing arrest warrants issued by local courts.
Caramat said the police is duty-bound to serve warrant of arrest issued by local courts to anyone, including Hijos, to let the accused faced the court giving her the chance to defend the charges hurled against her.
Hijos is wanted by the law for murder and serious illegal detention charges.
“She should face her charges that is why we don’t divulge the location of her detention, but rest assured (that) she is in good hands and health personnel are attending to her condition,” Ometer said
Hijos was arrested by the intelligence operatives of PRO-13 in Barangay Kinabjangan in Nasipit town, Agusan del Norte province.
Based on police investigations, Hijos was involved in an encounter with the Philippine Army on Nov. 20, 2019 in Purok 2, Sitio Kalipayan, Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte that resulted in the killing of Corporal Mario P. Suson,” the statement said..
Police said Hijos was also involved in the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary of the Philippine Army last December 29, 2018, in Barangay Kolambungan, Sibagat town, Agusan del Sur.
In a separate statement, human rights group Karapatan called the charges against Hijos “a blatant lie considering Atel’s senior age and frail physical condition.”
“Atel has pulmonary tuberculosis and hypertension, and she had a mild stroke. She has been bedridden, and she has difficulties (in) walking, at times using a wheelchair. How can an elderly woman, with such a frail build like Atel’s, possibly commit all the crimes alleged against her?” Karapatan asked.
The charges against Hijos are the same ones hurled against Dr. Natividad Castro, a regional leader of the human rights group Karapatan,
Castro was released from the Agusan del Sur provincial jail after 42 days of detention after acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7 in Bayugan City dismissed her case last March 25.
But last June 16, Judge Ferdinand Villanueva, executive judge of RTC Branch 7, ordered the re-arrest of Castro who was tagged by the military as a high ranking communist guerrilla.